eSport Watching Guide, week 3

As we cover more and more eSports tournaments around the globe, we thought it’d be a nice thing show you all the current and live events you can follow on a weekly basis.

Here are all the widgets you can check and share and of course, you can get all these scores and streams straight from your mobile with our free app Toornament eSports iOSAndroid). Happy watching!

2016 LCK Spring Split

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2016 NA LCS Spring Split

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2016 EU LCS Spring Split

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2016 LPL Spring Split

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2016 LMS Spring Split

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2016 CWL Australia

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2016 CWL Europe

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2016 CWL North America

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Gold Series Heroes League 2015

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2016 StarCraft II StarLeague Season 1 : Main Event

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2016 DreamHack Open Leipzig

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Dreamhack Leipzig 2016

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6 eSports trends for 2016

We can all agree on how crazy 2015 has been for eSports. More games, more money, more audience, more recognition, spectacular announcements and acquisitions… It’s been one hell of a ride. Well, guess what: 2016 is already poised to be even crazier. Here 6 (of many) points to prove it:

1. Publishers are the rulers

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The heavy move the whole eSports industry was expecting is happening: video game publishers are taking control of their IPs. Following Riot’s steps, Activision-Blizzard has been continuously taking control back from the independant organizers hands. The recent MLG is the latest, most spectacular step in this way.

Valve, known for its more hands-off strategy, is also starting to weight in the way its eSports are handled. The Dota 2 and CS:GO major circuits and qualifiers do not prevent independant organizers from running their own events with their own rule, but they cast a huge shadow over everyone else, as they attract the top teams, the largest audience and loudest hype.

2. Players and teams Unions

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On the other hand, players and teams are the other major force to reckon with. The idea of a union has been rampant for years, and even tried by the main CS 1.6 at the time even tho it didn’t work. The latest attempt was a leaked requirements list CS:GO teams intended to sent to from the tournament organizers.
Despite failed projects and short-lived announcement, 2016 might be the year we see major clubs and organizations come up together with norms and ethics codes. We hope they start small and simple, to federate as much people as possible.

3. Here’s Television showing up late to the party

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Ah, TV. For years, eSports has been dreaming of the days it would be featured on national networks. It never really happened (sorry, CGS) in western countries. But for the last months, we’ve seen strong signs of television finally playing catch-up with eSports. ESPN and BBC started to air eSport tournaments (on their secondary channels, tho). Turner will launch a huge CS:GO league this year. Great news, but are they still needed?

Since a few years, eSports grew up outside of the TV screen and found its own way to viewers, with streaming. Twitch and Douyu wild success changed the game, as both eSports fans and professionals understood that they didn’t need Television any longer, they just built their own media. We’re thus very curious how traditional TV moguls will bring to eSports in order to challenge streaming platforms. When the hunted becomes the hunter.

4. MOBAs are plateauing

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Gone are the golden days of MOBAs? Not quite of course, as the genre remains the most popular in eSports by a large margin. But their spectacular rise seems to have to come to a stop in 2015. DotA 2 saw its numbers decrease a bit in September, even thos we can tie them to the release of the less-stable, more buggy “Reborn” client.

Last but not least, “Heroes Of The Storm” seems to struggle. Despite the heavy promotion from its publisher Blizzard, the brawler-styled MOBA doesn’t seem to eat at LoL and Dota’s cake and convert enough new players. The fact that none metrics have been released since the official launch is a strong indicator.
2016 might be the most critical year for MOBA. Will the genre fade like Starcraft, or prevail like Counter Strike?

5. FPS on the (re)rise

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2016 is poised to be the biggest CS year in history, with a record number of major tournaments, more players than ever (the 10M active mark has just been reached).

The FPS genre will also rise with the much awaited Overwatch from Blizzard and new milestones from the new Unreal Tournament open Alpha.
On consoles, competitive Call Of Duty may get a boost, with a popular iteration (Black Ops III) and the new in-house World League. Halo 5 is also working hard to get its community back together and reclaim its console-FPS throne.
After years of reloading, the shooting genre is back, all guns blazing.

6. Amateur tournaments level up their game

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As the top players in eSports are bringing our young industry to a new level, let’s always keep in mind that it’s strengh will always lie in the community and grass root tournaments around the world. And this is where we’ll weigh in as much as possible, bringing a solid backbone for both eSports professional and amateurs.

Tournament format analysis: How Riot and ESL deal with the Random factor

As tournament formats and structures are our little hobby, we started analysing the major Esport events and the reasons behind their choices.

After The International 5, here we are, breaking down the LCS Finals and the recent ESL One Cologne 2015.

We hope you’ll find good inspiration or cautionary tales for your own tournaments!

LCS Finals 2015

  • Group Stage

The Group stage follows a “Round Robin”, “Home – Away” Best-of-1 format. It looks like a Best-of-2, but the each participants won’t play their opponent twice in a row.

We like this approach, as it provides more variety in each day’s match-ups and allows some time for the “revenge hype” to build up.

  • Knockout Stage

Following the Group Stage, eight teams  advance to the Knockout Stage (formerly known as the Bracket Stage) and matchups transition to Best-of-5s. The Knockout Stage is comprised of Quarterfinals, Semifinals, and Finals.

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The main change this year comes from a draw phase between the Group stage and the Knockout stage.

Riot wanted to give more transparency and avoid “throws”, where a team loses a game on purpose to avoid another team in the knockout bracket. The bracket draw will be broadcasted Live after all the Group stage matches are played, so that no one is be able to predict its future opponent.

Randomness is used here as a firewall against deceptive performances which hurt teams’ credibility and cast a shadow over the rest of the tournament.

ESL One Cologne 2015

After the unique format used at IEM Gamescom, ESL continues to explore alternatives to the classic “group-to-bracket” format. For this Summer ESL One, the German organization has come up with yet another twist in their structure. Here’s an excerpt from their announcement:

“We start the event with 4 groups of 4 teams each. Each group contains 2 legendary teams and 2 challenger teams. The teams will fight it out in a double elimination best-of-1 format per group with a small twist. The top 2 of each group will qualify for the playoffs.

The twist comes at the end of the first day of matches:

On the first day, all 4 groups will be played out up to and including the winners match, with the elimination match and deciding match still to be played out. This means that 4 teams will have qualified for the quarter finals and everyone else still has a chance to make it that far.

At the end of day 1, we will redraw the groups and seed the quarterfinals ensuring that a team cannot face off against a team that they have faced off against before until they reach the grand finals. After this swap, the teams will continue their run through the groups against their new opponents and try to reach a spot in the quarter finals.”

In a nutshell:

1. Groupstage is a Double Elimination brackets with 4 teams.

2. Semi finals are played, Winners Finals are played. The winner of this match qualifies for the Knockout Stage.

3. The three remaining teams from each group are shuffled with teams from other groups, but keep their current position.

4. In the new groups, Losers match is played, then Losers finals are played. The winner qualifies of this match qualifies for the Knockout Stage.

The main motivation behind this move is to prevent a team from being beaten twice by the same opponent. Still, it doesn’t look like it’s a fairer solution, as the original groups are supposed to be balanced from the start, with top seed teams and two low seed teams.

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But our main concern on this option is the audience: Bracket Groups are already quite peculiar – although very interesting, but stacking a redraw right in the middle might be excessive.

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Instead of playing games in a group of 4, we’ll play the 3 first games in a group of 4, then shuffle, then play the 3 remaining matches in a new group of 3. Still with us?

We then think about the participants. ESL CS tournaments are already criticized for using a Best-of-1 match format in the group stage, considered by many as not suitable for Counter-Strike. This FPS metagame is heavily influenced by the different maps and its ban/draft system.

Adding the group redraw hurts the relevance of the results, as naysayers will always have room to complain and post many “what if…” post-tournament articles and tweets.

The ESL One Cologne 2015 tournament format ultimately received mixed feedbacks for its Best-of-1 Match format in the group stage and GSL Groups redrawn. The next major tournament for ESL will be held in Dubai for the ESEA Invitational and we wonder which format they’ll come up with.

The International 5 competition structure analysis

As The International 5 is underway, let’s talk about its complex structure and the way it handles performances, elimination and other matters.image

Let’s be honest: last year International was a mess to follow: regional qualifiers, last chance tournament, round robin, double playoff, main bracket, all intricated with one another.

For the 5th iteration of its grand tournament, Valve made things simpler, but retained the multiple phases format. Here’s our break down on these choices:

Open Qualifiers (NA, EU, CN, SEA)

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  • Up to 1024 teams
  • Single Elimination bracket
  • Match format: Best of One
  • The winner is qualified for Main Regional Qualifier

Toornament’s notes: the first step to The International is a brutal welcome. Hundreds of opponents and no misstep allowed!

The combination of “Single elimination bracket” and “Best of 1 Matches” is really steep, but what choice do you have, when thousands of competitors around the world want and can take part in it?

This format is very time efficient, but should never be picked for any advanced stage of your competition.

Regional Qualifiers (NA, EU, CN, SEA)

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  • 10 teams
  • Group stage : 2 groups of 5
  • Double elimination bracket: Top team of each group enters through the
  • Winner bracket, 2nd team enters the Loser bracket
  • Match format: Best of 3, except for the Finals in Best of 5
  • Winner is qualified for the Wildcard tournament.

Toornament’s Notes: Classic structure. The limited number of participants allow for a double structure format, the classic “Group to Playoff”. This allows a good amount of matches and the right balance of forgiveness when a competitor stumbles.

The only twist here is that your group performance weighs more than usual on the rest of the competition, as the 2nd ranked in the group directly goes to the Loser bracket, instead of entering the Main bracket with a low seed. This method will be used throughout the whole competition.

The Wild Card

  • 4 teams
  • Double Elimination Bracket
  • Match format: Best of 3
  • Top 2 teams advance to the Main Event
  • Bottom 2 teams are eliminated

Toornament’s notes: A small, quick competition qualifying the two last teams for the Main Event. This phase wasn’t necessary, as the organizer could just have invited 12 teams instead of 14 and qualified the 4 winners of the Regional Qualifiers.

We think it’s a good way to start the Main Event with an appetizer, and a perfect rehearsal for the admin, streaming and casting teams.

Main Event – Group Stage

  • 16 teams
  • 2 groups of 8
  • Round Robin: Everybody plays each other within a group
  • Match format: 2 games. 2-0 earns 3 points, 1-1 earns 1 point, 0-2 earns 0 points
  • The top 4 teams of each group enter the main Bracket, the Bottom 4 teams of each group enter the Loser Bracket

Toornament’s notes: This is The International specialty: a huge amount of 112 matches being played in the course of 4 days. Still, the largest phase of the competition doesn’t eliminate anyone.

The rankings it produces are purely Seed intended, as everyone will go to the next phase no matter what. Again, Valve leans toward the “top to the winner bracket, bottom to the loser bracket” method.

We thus feel that this phase is very forgiving for everyone and that the organizers want to give as much chances as possible to every participant. We wouldn’t expect less from the most anticipated Esport tournament of the year.

Main Event – Playoff

  • 16 teams
  • Double Elimination bracket
  • Match format: Best of 3, except the Grand Finals using Best of 5 and the Loser Bracket Round 1 using Best of 1

Toornament’s notes: The last phase of The International 5 follows the ever popular Double Elimination Bracket, adding two modifications to the original model: at the very end, the Grand Final is a Best of 5 match, instead of a set of Best of 3 matches, where the competitor coming from the Loser Bracket has to “reset” the Finals by winning a first Best of 3, whereas the competitor from the Winner Bracket just needs one set to win it all.

At the very beginning of the tournament, Valve has left a steep Loser Bracket 1st round for the bottom competitors. This round is played in a Best of 1 match, meaning a swift elimination for 4 of the bottom teams.

We do understand this decision – Group Stage rankings must come with a price, or no teams will be motivated to really perform, or show their strategies and best moves.

Final Wrap Up

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The International is really one of a kind. Its much hyped, crowdfunded money prize is the talk of the town, but its competition structure is worth a look. Valve went with a very unique way to treat its competitors, going from brutal phases to more forgiving ones

The fact that all the teams play a lot of matches over an extended period says one thing for us: The International is a massive competition, but also a massive  celebration of DOTA 2 as a game, a community and an Esport discipline.

The generous amount of matches reminds us the NBA league, where the fans get plenty of show and exciting moments. The extended length of the competition – 2 weeks from the start of the Wild Card to the Finals of the Main Event – leans toward the World Cup (4 weeks), which gives time for everyone to celebrate.

As a tournament organizer, you should take notes from The International. There are great ideas (we haven’t even talked about All-star matches, 1v1, media days, days off etc.) to keep in mind, but also lessons you should take as a warning. The main one being that The International is a huge event with huge resources. Valve did a good a job to size the need for their phases, but few people and companies can afford the millions of dollars needed.

All in all, always think about your competitors and the audience experience! The right balance between the amount of matches, the timeframe and people’s endurance will be key to your success. Share with us your ideal Tournament structure and in the meantime, let’s enjoy The International 5!

Why you should add new games to your Esport event

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The incoming Nintendo shooter, “Splatoon”, is designed with competition in mind.

We all know Esport is nowadays driven by a few chosen games : League Of Legends, DotA, Counter Strike, Hearthstone, Call of Duty, Street Fighter and such. Those major disciplines are followed by a pack of underdogs : Smite, Super Smash Bros, EA Sports games, World of Tanks etc.

But their numerous Esport compliant games with a little, but active community. We recently saw a huge “Arma 3” match and Nintendo is driving it’s newest IP “Splatoon” as a friendly, but highly competitive shooter.

As a tournament organizer, should focus your ressources on popular and known games, or give their chance to new  one ?

We support the later, for 5 reasons :

1. Easier to get to the community and publisher

Getting support from a game community or publisher may be a hard task, as everyone are close to harrass them for some attention, support or money. New or minor but promising games are on the other begging for attention and events. Getting to them will then a much easier process.

2. Money

Working on a new game can also bring great opportunities, as the game publisher will have some budget to spend on adds (media) and special operations (you). Bring a well thought pitch deck and your “new game” tournament won’t take ressources aways from your “main games” tournaments. It may even earn you some money.

3. Variety
If your tournament boasts several games, it’s always a good thing throw heavy contenders and rookie in the mix. Variety is an underrated value in Esport tournaments and Olympics are a great example of how major and minor disciplines benefit each other – and ultimately, benefit the event awareness.

4. Room for innovation
Well established games often rhymes with conservative tournaments. Groupstages to simple/double elimination playoffs are the staple in Esport tournaments, with few alternative structures. Some games like Heartstone, have their own format but again (i.e “Conquest”), but it’s still hard to chose another path. Fresh games are the perfect playground for fresh tournament structures and scoring system. Grab the opportunity !

5. “Small risk / hi reward” bet
Trying to support a new game may be seen as a risk and in a way, it is. It’s up to you to limit that risky part of the bet. Don’t invest in money prize (or let the publisher / sponsor take care of this), invite a limited amount of participants and try to squeeze the logistics requirement into manageable volume by your admin team.

As Toornament already support more than 70 Esport disciplines, we hope you’ll request us to support more !

Esport is growing, Disney / HTC / Besiktas / KeSPA edition

In a recent post about

what we expect for Esport in 2015

, new sponsors were one of our key points. More money and more recognition never hurts. Wishes came true these last days, with some new actors involved in Esport, from HTC to Disney…

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HTC gets a triple kill in LoL

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We wrote earlier that one of the main goal for Esport this year would be to attract sponsors outside the gaming industry. The past years have seen some interesting partnerships, but most ended being one shots. Now comes HTC. The Taiwanese smartphone company may be jumping into gaming this year with a new product. To show its longterm dedication, HTC striked not one but three sponsorship deals with major League Of Legends teams :

Cloud 9

Team Solo Mid

Team Liquid

Those deals focus on the North American LoL scene, showing some insight from a traditionalist sponsor which we haven’t seen before. Also worth noting the wording used by the team : “premium” a “long term” shows that we’re not dealing with some kind of one shot or gear giveaway for some shoutouts.

Besiktas football, basketball, handball and volleyball club adds LoL

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One of the largest sports club in mid-East, Turkish organisation

Besiktas JK

, just added a League Of Legends team, along with its soccer, basketball, hand ball and volley ball rosters.

Aces High is a turkish LoL team

which recently took part in the IEM Cologne. Linking an Esport club to a sport club has always been a long time and logical Esport fantasy, but this happening with a major international sports team (Besiktas soccer and basketball teams are quite renowned on the international scene) adds more weight to the deal. Here again, symbol matters more than any actual figures.

Korea closes the gap between Esport and Olympic Games

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Korea remains one of the most advanced country for all things Esports. We just learned that the local Esport authority, the famous

 KeSPA, has gotten e-sports accepted into the 2nd level of the Olympic Committee

. This means that Esport now required one last step to be integrated into the Olympic disciplines pool. Esport is 20 years old now, but its craziest dreams from the early days are about to come true.

Disney’s new teenage sensation goes Esport

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Last, but not least, Disney. The company behind Pixar, Marvel, Lucas and well, Disney, is also a juggernaut in the teenagers content industry, with hits such as High School Musical and Violetta. The new kid on the block is no other than a profesional gamer. From (another Disney’s) TV Show “Jessie”, Cameron Boyce will also star in a new show broadcasted on gaming/anime channel Disney XD.

“Gamer’s Guide to Pretty Much Everything”

follows “

a teenage professional video game player who circumvents life’s challenges using his gaming acumen

”.
But the most interesting part of this show lies in the (pro)gamer status treatment. Gamers characters have long been depicted as losers climbing from the bottom (I have no friends etc.) to the top (I’m finally cool, even tho I’m a gamer).
“GGPME” work the other way around. The hero here is an established cyber athlete, living the glamorous life of an Esport star until a thumb injury throws him back to “normal” life. We expect some stereotypes here and there, but the pitch itself shows a new step in Esport and gamers recognition : According to Disney, being a pro gamer is cool. This may look trivial to you, but this “bold” take on the matter may influence millions of kids – and their parents.

9 Esport trends we expect in 2015

As 2014 went down as a great year for Esport, 2015 may lead us to even higher levels of recognition, audience, sponsorship and of course, great moments : more games, more countries, consoles, women, production values… Take a look at our 9 trends for this year.

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1. The consoles real awakening

If consoles represent the largest slices of the gaming industry, they’ve remain a minor force in Esport. Of course, Call of Duty, and FIFA and Destiny are selling millions and can count on a large user base. Fighting games are at home on consoles more than on PCs. There are numerous competitions, champions. But nothing as big – money wise and audience wise – as PC Esports disciplines. Why do consoles trails so far behind ?

Reasons range from technical and financial hurdles to regularly update games, no Free 2 Play major titles or limited streaming options. Things may change with this generation of consoles, as Microsoft and Sony have finally understood the huge benefits of long term, ever evolving, strong community backed games.
Of course PS4 and XBox One boasts direct stream to Twitch. But the most important feature may lie in the new publishing deals, allowing developers to update and enrich their game without having to pay each time and thus, having one major update once in a year – think Street Fighter IV, here.

Consoles needs to play catch up with PC, but they’ve finally understood and may hold the real explosion for Esport in the next years. They already had the great games, they just need to become just as great as platforms.
 
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2. Less financial turmoils

Most of the dramas occurring on the Esport scene are about players being out of a team and money. As more and more dollars are pouring into Esport through growing money prizes, contracts and sponsorship, the Esport scene still looks like a far west movie. Unpaid cashprizes, team going down because of one sponsor’s off the deal, managers running away with the money they’re supposed to collect for their players, the lack of proper contracts…
One of Esport main effort this year should  be about legal and financial supporting document, made available to anyone – with some wiki for basic knowledge and customisation of those documents.
 
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3. Emerging countries

Right now, Esport is a global phenomenon with a few leading territories : North America, Europe, CIS, China and Korea. Some countries may nonetheless rise this year. We’ve kept an eye on the Japanese scene, which has always been notorious for its talented players, especially on the fighting games scene. The PC scene, yet minor, is growing with the first DOTA 2 and League Of Legends professional teams.
Japan’s status on Esport is tightly linked to consoles status on Esport, as gaming PC is very rare there. We expect Japan to grow steadily over the next years. Large countries such as India are also showing strong commitment signs, with more and more tournaments and players. Esport needs to evolve beyond the classic US-EU-SEA triumvirat to become a real global phenomenon.
 
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4. Crowdfunding for everyone

Valve blew people’s minds and wallets with the The International 3. The way people could fun the cashprize and get away with great content proved to be  a huge hit. Last year International gathered close to $11M (Valve started with $1.6M), paving the way to a new generation of community backed tournament. So far, most have been a success. Most are DOTA 2, but Hirez Studios Smite World Championship went over the $2.5M mark. There may be some failure and excesses along the way, but this business model is headed to a bright future.
We’re working hard on Toornament to bring this crowdfunding mechanics to all our users.
 
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5. FGC joins the family

Esports and Fighting Game Community had a long love / hate relationship. Long (and numerous) stories short, the FGC never felt like it belonged or wanted to belong with the PC Esport scene and business model and thus, developed a strong community sense that both held it together and closed it to the other communities.
Last months have shown encouraging signs, with the best fighters being drafted in major Esport teams, streaming and so on. With Capcom’s Street Fighter V poised for the end of this year or 2016 on both PS4 and PC, the shift everyone was hoping for may be finally happening.
Fighting games are amongst the most spectacular, skill demanding and audience understandable Esport discipline and they deserve to be top tier disciplines.
 
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6. More new games and mid-sized communities

As the video game industry and culture have spawn numerous great games, Esport should reflect this depth. We all know that you can’t fully dedicate yourself to many Esports disciplines, but maybe give a try to other games, along with your main. LoL, CS and Hearthstone may reign supreme, but other deserves attention and involvement.
The case for more games also lead to more opportunities for developers and modders to try new things and keep Esport disciplines pool fresh and new.
 
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7. Female champions

Ah, the neverending topic. Women and Esports is a heated debate, as everyone thought Esport would erase the physical differences between men and women. For others reasons, Esport progamers are huge majority of guys. Why the lack of girls ? We won’t try to answer on this post. But 2015 may see the rise of women champions in a non female dedicated tournament. Scarlett has paved the way and progamers like MagicAmy won big Hearthstone tournament recently.
It’s a matter of time and dedication and finding the right talent at the right game, but a woman winning a major tournament – and remain in the top tier players for some time could be a huge boost and eye opener for Esport enthusiasts and neophytes alike.
 
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8. Generalist / sports sponsors

Something we love about the LCS : Coca Cola and American Express as premium sponsors. Esport needs here to put emphasis on the “sport”, more than on the “e”. Every gaming company is now onboard with Esport but our culture needs to grow wider. It’s more than gaming, it thus should attract more than gaming sponsors. Generalist sponsors would mean higher credibility, new audience, more money. Time to mail Nike, Starbucks and L’Oreal. 
 
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9. Production Value

It’s been one of the buzzwords lately, even tho few really get it. “Production values” means everything tournament organizers put to make a good show on site and online. More cameras, more casters, inbetween matches content, analysis, nice main stages, stream overlays etc.
As tournaments production value is going up as the time and iteration goes by, it shall be noted that the tournament itself isn’t enough nowadays. In 2015, Esport enthusiasts expect more. More entertainment, more content, more show. Production value, they call it.
And – surprise – this is where we kick in. We’re hard working at Toornament to empower with all the most critical tools to run perfect and spectacular tournaments !

When Esport schedules need an agenda

In the past few days, the DOTA 2 Esport agenda got quite busy, with the reveal of 4 major tournaments : Dreamhack Summer, joinDOTA League with MLG, ESL One and Valve’s very own International 5 qualifiers.

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But the announcements were not met with the expected hype and cheers. They even were welcomed with a negative feeling : all those great events will happen in the same month of June, making it hard for teams to attend them all and fans to follow them all, while the rest of the year suddenly feels empty of major events.

This June, 4 major DOTA 2 events will collide :

Dreamhack Summer

  • June 13th-16th
  • (announced August 14th 2014)
  • Elmia, Jönköping, Sweden

MLG joinDOTA League

  • June 26th-28th
  • (announced December 4th 2014)
  • est. USA

ESL One

  • June 20th-21st
  • (announced August 12th 2014)
  • Frankfurt, Germany

The International 5

  • Qualifiers est. June 7th-14th
  • (announced December 15th 2014)
  • est. Seattle, USA

And we’re just talking about the ones we know as of today. As this situation already happened last year, the community, from fans to pro gamers like EternalEnvy, got upset.

On the organizers’ side, things a more complicated. Schedules conflicts are no new stuff. Finding, booking and getting a correct time and a free slot for an event location, dealing with all other events using those locations, from sports, to live music, to conferences etc. The right days are scarce.

Still, a tournament could be Jeopardized, if no top tier team shows up. Would attend or support Dreamhack Summer, if all the best teams are on the other side of the globe, trying to qualify for the much larger International 5 ?

As long as Esport agenda is made by independant organizers dealing with their own and without concertation, we might witness some more tournament traffic jams.

Each Esport discipline should find a way to build and tune its season, like Tennis does with the ATP circuit, spreading the major tournaments across the year.

In the meantime, let’s hope June doesn’t become a DOTA overdose.

Why Street Fighter V should be more like DOTA 2

Freshly announced and already hotly anticipated, Capcom’s Street Fighter V already face snumerous challenges.

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Since 2008’s Street Fighter IV, the gaming, multiplayer and Esport landscapes have dramatically changed : free to play, community market place, streams are now setting the benchmark for any serious contender.

Whereas Capcom has only told as few as possible, speculations and expectations are going wild online. We think there’s a simple way to follow, for “SFV” to become a great Esport discipline : make a “Valve’s DOTA 2”.

The Seattle giant didn’t reinvent the game, but did revamp the whole experience around the game. The move, bold, proved itself with great results.

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Here are the key points Street Fighter V needs to check on its bucket list to become the true next gen Esport fighting game, all provided by the work and lessons from DOTA 2.

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FREE TO PLAY

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We won’t explain this business model (it’s 2014) and just name the dominant titles in Esport : League Of Legends, DOTA 2, Hearthstone and Counter Strike : Global Offensive. The three first are all Free To Play, when the later can be regularly found under $5.

Street Fighter, as an AAA title, seems to be aimed for a $70/PS4 $50/PC release price, but it shouldn’t. Sustainability is a critical goal for any Esport game, and this can’t be better helped than with massive amount of players, and constant waves of newcomers.

Street Fighter and its major updates sold 6,4M copies over the past 5 years, which is great, but not enough. This number could go through the roof should the game be free, or sold under $15. Namco Bandai’s own Tekken Revolution has shown the way of Free To Play, but the game is still too much leaning toward Pay To Win.

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VANITY BUSINESS

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DOTA 2 stands out from its peers, by offering a true Free To Play offer : every single gameplay element of the game is free and available to everybody. Which means that the only paid DLCs are all about vanity : new skins, effects, HUDs, load screens, loot items, stages, musics andwhat have you. At first sight, it might hurt Capcom’s revenues compared to paid new characters, but DOTA 2 showed that equal game experience for every players unifies the community and make them more willing to spend on cosmetic items.

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MONTHLY TECHNICAL AND GAMEPLAY UPDATES

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Street Fighter IV has proven to be a headache for each major update. Its technologic and business models weren’t designed for regular, minor updates like minor nerfs and buffs. Those are critical to keep a game balanced and free from OP techniques and characters.

Riot went a step further with League Of Legends, by changing the whole metagame between each season, making the game brand new and thus maintaining its interest.

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COMMUNITY MARKETPLACE

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The Street Fighter PC Community has proven itself very creative and active, when it comes touser generated content: tons of high quality skins, mods and such. And this, without any official support from Capcom whatsoever. Let’s imagine now what would happen if creators were to be rewarded. Street Fighter’s depth would exponentially expand.

Nowadays, Valve gets a huge 75% chunk of any dollar spend in community market, a multi million dollar business. We know Capcom is in a dire financial situation, and this could be a sustainable way to adress this issue.

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FLEXIBLE 3D ENGINE

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Valve just announced its new engine (Source 2 ?) for next year. According to the developer, the main goal behind this heavy switch is to make it easier to create special mods and skins – think about all the DOTA 2 special events like Frostivus, or Arcana class skins. Street Fighter V’s own engine is rumored to be the Unreal Engine 4, a wildly adopted and praised engine, which should act like a nice playground for the modding community and the Capcom’s developers alike.

Street Fighter’s incoming Omega mode should be easy to code in Street Fighter environment.

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BETTER LEARNING EXPERIENCE

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While Street Figher IV offered some nice training options with training mode and character challenges, it didn’t go beyond those features. Eventhough a MOBA requires an incredible amount of base knowledge and training, Street Fighter V should offer the same level of support and welcoming solutions for beginners. Community guides, tips, advanced training options, replays analysis… All this, ingame.

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ADVANCED SPECTATING AND BROADCASTING TOOLS

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Let’s face it : Street Fighter sucks for everything broadcasting. No ingame spec, and the Youtube share feature is a mess. DOTA TV is a benchmark in video games. Being able to follow a gamer from different view points, with several casters options makes a great spectating experience.

Streaming is now a huge part of a game’s promotion and evangelism and Street Fighter need to hop on the hype train.

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RICH STATISTICS

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We love stats, you love stats, everybody does. What is the most banned hero ? How many wards are bought each games ? Where do most of the kills happen ? Under the trivia bliss, stats help understand a game and its metagame. Street Fighter would be great to analyse and understand with all those datas : heatmap, most used combos and of course, objective tier lists…

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CONSISTANT, STRONG ESPORT INVOLVEMENT

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Next year, Capcom will support its Pro Tour, with $1M. It’s a nice effort, and the publisher has to keep on investing. Riot and Valve have proved that an inhouse developed Esport tournament is the right way. Numerous, pro tier tournaments are the backbone of a game Esport existence. Capcom has to level up its game to make Street Fighter an Esport must play, must watch. More tournaments and tighter control over the experience are mandatory for a Street Fighter V Pro Tour.

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BETS

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Money matches are a deep rooted tradition within the Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom community (just Google “Salty Suite”), sometimes bringing more hype and “salt” than official events. Even though the whole betting business is a legal and financial nightmare to set up, Street Fighter should integrate some item betting system. Sites like DOTA Lounge have proven to be wildly successful, adding more engagement from viewers.

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TL;DR !

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Street Fighter will certainly be a great game. But it could turn into something even greater, if Capcom seriously looks into what Valve did : ship a great game, and focus your efforts into all things around this product : community, spectators, programers, money etc.

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We’ll know a bit more about Street Fighter V directions, as more news will be unveiled this weekend during the Capcom Cup Finals. Let’s hope they push full mid.

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Tournament formats : should we stick to the classic ones, or try the new ones ?

At Toornament.com, our team is hard working to offer our organizers community the best, most complete tool to design and manage tournaments.

Lately, we’ve been discussing about the tournament formats we could, or should support. Toornament.com already handle a wide array of simple or complex formats, but some are still even more specific, to be handled the easy way.

Outside of “groups-to-bracket” land, and other leagues, exist some tournaments with a twist, whether they use a unique structure, or mix in several of them. Here are the most notable cases :

The upcoming MLG Colombus Open – 25K Series works as following :

  1. The Tournament will support as many as 144 Teams with 16 Teams starting in Pool Play and 128 Teams starting in the Open Bracket.
  2. The tournament starts with the Open Bracket, pitting against each other 128 teams in a classic Best Of 3 Double Bracket fashion.
  3. The 4 remaining teams in the winner bracket enter the groupstage of the Championship, joining the seeded teams. The 4 teams in the loser bracket are place in the Championship double bracket, straight in the Loser bracket round 1.
  4. The groupstage results will place teams according to their final place : 1st and 2st go to the Winner’s Bracket quarter finals, while the 3rd, 4th and 5th will end in the Round 3, Round 2 and Round 1 of the Lover Bracket.
  5. From there on, the tournament follows a Best Of 5, Double Bracket Format.

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Another (in)famous example would be The International 4, Valve’s very own Dota 2 tournament :

  1. Four regional qualifications were held. The winners go to the Playoff Phase 2. The seconds go to the Playoff Phase 1.
  2. The Playoffs start with 19 teams : 11 invited, the 4 regional qualifiers winners and the 4 regional qualifiers seconds.
  3. The Playoff Phase 1 pits the regional qualifier seconds against each other in a Single Bracket. The winner gets to go to Phase 2.
  4. The Playoff Phase 2 works like a championship, where all 16 teams play all each other. The leading teams get access to the Main Event Upper Bracket. 3rd to 10th goes into another Playoff. 11th to 16th are eliminated.
  5. Teams ranked from 3rd to 10th play in two brackets, where the lower seeded starts to play. The winner advances to the next match, against a higher seed and so on. The winner of each bracket gets to the Main Event Upper Bracket, 2nd and 3rd access to the Lower Bracket, when the last team is eliminated.
  6. (Fast ?) Forward to the Main Event, where the final 8 team fight there way from the Upper and Lower Bracket, in a double elimination fashion. Matches are Best of 3, Grand Final is Best of 5.

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Complex, exotic format seen here can also be found in other major tourneys, like Dreamleague.

“Traditional” discipline also use sometimes out of the box formats, from NBA (conferences) to NFL (teams do not play the same amount of matches) to the Volley ball World Championship, which no less than 3 groupstage phases, to single bracket semi-finals.

Goals differs, from geographic or time constraints to the will to generate more matches, give more chances for an underdog to face a champion…

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In our interview with Konstantin Schmidt, the Rush Esport Center founder saw in Esports an opportunity to experiment with new formats. Potential trade off would be to sacrifice efficiency to innovation.

Do you think Esport tournaments should comply to efficient and proven formulas, or take new approaches ? In the meantime, we’ll keep on offering more and more format, and can create custom ones, if you need them !