Among the various esports I watch, the tournament circuits I enjoy the most are CS:GO and Dota 2. I get to watch the best teams across the world play against each time and time again in various formats and conditions. But there is one thing I think is missing in the current circuit of both and that is a prestigious open tournament. However those kinds of tournaments are hard to run, especially if you want the same level of production and venues as the modern day viewers seem to demand, so instead I’d opt for a potential open qualifier slots.
For those who don’t know, BYOC (bring your own computer) Open tournaments are just glorified LAN parties. It is what people call the old school grass roots approach of running a tournament. People come on their own dime and computer and once everyone is gathered, a bracket is made and then the teams play it out. The closest thing to this style of tournament in CS:GO left is CopenHagen Games. Now there are a whole slew of problems with this style of LAN. Security is generally bad as there are so many people that gear gets stolen, fights could potentially break out if things get heated, and there is no incentive for a big team to go to this type of LAN in the current CS:GO climate.
Because no big team wants to go to these types of LAN (nor should they considering the alternative where they get privacy, security, and can focus on their game play), it’s hard to draw up an event with that premise in mind and have it be one of the big events. On top of that the visa issues and costs could potentially spike if the tournament organizer has to provide the computers. But my idea is to run an Open Qualifier Slot which is a different thing. To understand what I mean, first I’ll lay out how the tournament circuits work.
Currently tournament organizers first invite the best teams. So for instance, in a 16 team tournament, the top 8 teams are invited. If one of them declines, then the organization tries to get a suitable replacement. The final 8 slots are spread across regional online or sometimes on LAN qualifiers depending on the tournament. What I’m suggesting is that instead of the final 8 slots being all regional online qualifiers that only 6 of them be. Then have the last 2 slots be won through an open BYOC bracket where the top 2 teams that win it.
It’ll essentially work as an under card that feeds into the actual event. The reason I think this could be an improvement is because it’s hard to figure out who is the best team from 11-30 as there is a lot of parity between them. This also gives a weaker teams a chance to get LAN experience, learn from better teams/players at the event, give some local teams a chance to shine (as I’d assume they’d play in this thing), naturally build a narrative going into the main event, and it’s a better equal opportunity for those who attend as they don’t have the disadvantage of having different ping online at different times in their day. As it’s a pre-event, I don’t think the TO should go all out, but instead use second or third string casters so they gain experience and notoriety as well.
Despite all of those selling points, I don’t think the positives would outweigh the negatives for CS:GO TO’s to do this. It’s still extra cost and management time for them whereas online is cheaper and easier to do. On top of that, you may not get the teams you want attending these BYOC open qualifier slots as there isn’t much incentive for those particular teams that failed the online qualifiers to send their teams.
Where I think this is more possible and makes more sense is in the Dota 2 scene. Dota 2 is a more global game in the sense that the strong teams are more widespread and it shifts faster because of how the game itself works. CS:GO generally has the best teams that reside in the NA/EU/CIS region. In Dota 2, they come from NA, EU, CIS, CN, and SEA. On top of that Valve wants to specifically expand to SA in that game so you have 6 regions to think about it.
This is why whenever regional online qualifier slots are divided up, there is a general community uproar for each particular tournament as there is no standardized way to figure out what region is the best. It becomes this weird balancing game between equal opportunity, regional location, and potential guess work as to how strong each of the tier 2 teams are relative to each other and how you divide those online qualifier slots fairly. So how I’d run it in Dota 2 is similar to what I said in CS:GO. In a 16 team tournament, the top 8 teams get invites. Then each region gets an online qualifier slot (NA, EU, CIS, CN, SEA, SA). Then the final 2 slots are a BYOC Lan event where the top 2 finishers get into the LAN.
Just like CS:GO, the tier 2 teams are much harder to rate. Arguably it’s even more so because the patch changes and the division by region means you will never know how a team like compLexity will match against a team like TNC unless they happen to face each other in a LAN. Even then LANs are now using bo1 instead of bo3 in the early stages of the tournament, so you don’t get any good data off of it.
Perhaps the biggest selling point of why I think this works a lot better in Dota 2 is because DPC points can incentivize everything. I don’t know the exact stipulations of what a tournament organizer has to provide for attending teams, but assume for a moment that they only need to provide travel and accommodation for the qualified teams. For these open qualifier slots, they can reduce costs and still get the teams they want competing for them as the precious DPC points means that teams will be willing to pay their own way for teams to get into the tournament.
So with the open qualifier slot you can get a chance to grant equal opportunity, avoid the issue of allocating the regional qualifier slots badly, and all of the other benefits I outlined before. On top of that Dota 2’s tournament circuit has a bit more leeway. They’re not quite as married to the huge stadium arena events so you can have it connected with a more festival like feel. As this type of tournament needs more room, I think an ideal way to run it is to partner it up with a gaming convention like what ESL does with Gamescom.
If you have enough teams you can run a Magic the Gathering Grand Prix event where you run an actual Swiss format and at the end the top X amount of teams are seeded into a single elimination bracket.
So an ideal way of running this tournament can go about two ways. Either the entire tournament is an Open Tournament in which case, imagine a scenario with 32 teams. You run true Swiss format with proper initial seeding for the first 3 days. The final eight teams go to the single elimination playoff bracket. The other way is if you’re using it as a BYOC Open Qualifier. The format would change depending on the amount of teams playing, but I’d imagine it would be somewhere between 4-10. If time is a concern then do a double stream, single-elimination bracket and finish it in a day. If you have more time, you can do something more complicated like round robin, double elimination, or swiss.
One final bit to note is that I think the BYOC Open Qualifier slot works better with Valve’s vision for Dota 2/CS:GO in mind. Both teams seem to want to foster growth in local scenes and one of the best ways to do that is to have the local teams show up to these lans and play in them. Once they are eliminated they can mingle and talk with the other pros and gain a lot of knowledge they wouldn’t otherwise gain like when the MVP guys talked to the [A]lliance guys at their first LAN event.
Overall that’s my case for a BYOC Open Qualifier slot. It gives a different kind of tournament, it allowed for more tournament formats, it creates a natural pre-event narrative going into the event, it gives equal ping advantage as it’s on LAN, it helps foster local scene growth, it keeps a bit of the legacy of the old school grassroots feel of the old LANs, and I think it could be a lot of fun like the wildcards are for The International.