Thursday, 17 January 2013

#2 - Oversaturation, Fatigue and the need for a unified pro circuit

You will all no doubt remember the crazy November of 2012, if you don't? quite honestly you missed out and i feel sorry for you. If by some horrendous accident or continued misfortune you did miss it then here is a short summary; 4 weekends and four incredible tournaments featuring the best players, the best casters, amazing games and mostly in sweet, sweet HD. I have to say that as a lover of Starcraft it was a beautiful thing. Back in September and October everyone was getting hyped for what was being billed as a crazy month for the scene. November came and it did not disappoint, players were jetting all over the world and casters bouncing between continents like a Starcraft and red bull fueled pinball.

As already stated i loved that month but it brought up three points for me that i thought i would share.

Firstly is the over saturation that is occurring at the moment in the Starcraft 2 scene. Simply put there is too much going on and that's completely natural, people are getting excited about the scene and want to do their bit so tournaments are cropping up all over the place and its brilliant but it cant continue because it just isn't sustainable. With the sheer amount of tournaments happening in the scene people just cannot watch the amount of Starcraft that's happening while still having room for work and sleep. This means tournaments losing views and organisations going under and that's not good for anyone.

My second point is a system that tennis does really well. That is a unified pro circuit in the form of the ATP tour. Players play minor tournaments all over the world during the year and four times a year (if they have qualified) they come together for the major tournaments. This is a system that i think Starcraft and eSports as a whole could benefit from. I'm not saying that the system should be followed verbatim and that we need to cut away some major tournaments but think a lot could be gained from the major tournaments having a dialogue on this subject. That way the schedule can be eased for players and casters and tournaments have more time to improve and prepare between tournaments. In addition to that we could see global ranking systems, off season and some really interesting dynamics to the scene that haven't been part of it as of yet.

My third and final point is that of caster and player fatigue. to make this point i am going to use the example of Apollo. Over the course of November he casted every single major tournament visiting 3 different continents and four different countries along the way. At some points he even ended up travelling to another place very close to the one he had previously left to go back to Europe for an event in between. I love Apollo, he is my favorite caster but i could tell as he was going through that month that he was enjoying it less and less. Specifically i noticed that during the Thor open that he casted the first weekend of December in Sweden he was not his normal charming and chirpy self. Now don't get my wrong i am not attacking Apollo i think he did amazingly and i could not have done what he did during that month but it was definitely too much. I also do not know the whole reason for the change in mood because i don't know him but i have to assume that tiredness must have been a part of it. I am also not saying that he was forced to cast these events because obviously he can pick and chose but he only has so much refusal power before bridges start being burned i imagine. As well as being a problem for casters it is a problem for players although to a slightly lesser extent purely because they are playing every day anyway when training so its not as much of a problem but even so with all the jet lag from flying between tournaments it will definitely have affected their performances. This means lower quality of games and ultimately lower quality entertainment for the viewer so fewer views as well as the players feeling that they haven't performed to their highest standard.

So to summarise that essay i think that while as a spectator November was fantastic, at the end of the day i think it hurts the scene and the people that put so much of themselves into it. I think so much can be gained from tournaments talking to each other so that everyone can have a break every so often.

Thanks so much for reading! agree? disagree? chuck a comment below and we can chat.

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