Esports matches such as the one that occurred in the Dota 2 Katowice 2018 North American Qualifier between OpTic Gaming and Carlton’s Esports Club should never be decided the way it was.
Imagine yourself playing in a qualification match with the winner moving on in the hopes of earning a berth in the main event. The opposing team shows up late and the administration from the tournament ask you if you want the forfeit win. What do you do? If your decision is to do anything other than take the forfeit win, you have been negligent—and it’s not fair to you.
When tournament organizers give the option to one team as to whether or not to take a forfeit win they are absolving themselves of any responsibility while at the same time trying to keep their positive image. After all it wasn’t the tournament organizers that forfeited the match it was the other team’s decision.
This was exactly the case at the ESL One Katowice 2018 North America Qualifier when OpTic Gaming was 35 minutes late to a match. Instead of forfeiting the match due to a rules violation, ESL decided to give OpTic’s opponent, Carlton Esports Club, the option to play the match or take the forfeit win. CES decided to take the win.
OpTic’s captain, Peter “ppd” Dager, doesn’t like the fact that the decision to forfeit was made by CES.
“A team accepting a forfeit win (rule-approved) or not because the other teams were busy playing in qualifiers they also would have liked to be playing in (past eliminated) is egregious,” ppd told VPEsports.
However, the bigger problem, according to ppd, is that there are simply too many competitions fit into a too few days.
“It’s quite difficult for tournament organizers to find the time to run the required qualifier in each of the six regions,” ppd said. “It’s incredibly disadvantageous for any team to not want to compete in every minor/major that is available. $300,000 for a “minor” is plenty of incentive to draw top talent. As a result, everyone wants to play in everything and if teams are at LANs they can’t play in qualifiers which usually results in there being one available week of the month that everyone is home and able to play.”
Lightning struck twice on this day.
Animal Planet was hit by the same bolt that leveled OpTic.
After being late for their next match in the same qualifier, the option to play the match was put into Animal Planet’s opponent VGJ.storm. And just like CED, VGJ took the forfeit win.
“We super [messed] up,” Animal Planet’s Kurtis “Aui_2000” Ling wrote in a twitlonger. “We did not take the proper steps to message admins or attempt to confirm our disqualification/forfeit win timings through the proper channels.”
Aui_2000 took a hard stance with the way ESL tournament officials handled the situation
“VGJ should have no responsibility in deciding whether we get punished by the admins,” Aui_2000 wrote. “The fact that the admin was still asking them if they wanted to wait longer is a joke. It’s a diffusion of responsibility and an attempt to pass along blame to someone else. Man-up admins. If you want to be a robot behind a rulebook then do so without involving other parties.”
Before tournaments started paying out dollar amounts that could support esport players focusing solely on competing, gentlemen’s agreements were common in regard to skirting rules during events. Teams could be late, restart rounds, or worse and sportsmanship was more important than gamesmanship. While there still is a sense of honor among different esports and their teams, accepting forfeit wins is becoming the status quo.
And the reason is undoubtedly money.
Esports earnings nearly doubled between 2014-2015, according to Esports Earnings, jumping from $37,151,267 to $66,439,125. And with this jump, the dream of being able to compete as long as you can and possibly even retire at an early age. The increase in tournament prize pools, league winnings, sponsorship money, and more isn’t over.
Industry leaders, esports teams, and tournament organizations need to understand that the quasi laid back atmosphere of the genre is over. Players need to understand that tournament rules are to be adhered to and if that means not signing up for every event, then sobeit. At the same time, tournament organizers need to defend competitive integrity by applying the rules fairly and equitably to all participants and should revisit their rule books to make sure that they have leeway to act.
Teams. Make sure you schedule correctly and know you can’t play in everything.
Tournament organizers. Try working together with other events so there isn’t as many conflicts and make the hard decisions.