Major esports often have the luxury of spending weeks to run their premier events. For less-established games like TF2, though, the scene often has to compress its biggest tournaments into the space of a weekend, which requires great consideration for the format of such events.
With Season 1 of the Overwatch League in the books and the expansion cities for Season 2 being announced, no time seems better than now to begin speculating on what Season 2 might look like.
There’s always some level of controversy over the whitelist, and over the past week or so the focus has been drawn to the favorite of Medics everywhere: Crusader’s Crossbow.
People have massively differing views on what its effect has been to the competitive meta, and without detailed stats it’s impossible to reliably quantify any stats, so the debate is subjective.
The ruleset announced for ESA Rewind make for a difficult schedule. I decided to take a look at how badly it messes things up.
First, for reference, the relevant part of the ESA Rewind ruleset that makes for difficult scheduling.
Ruleset: 45 minute timelimit, 5 round winlimit 5cp/4 round winlimit koth, two 120 second tactical pauses allowed per team per map
Each map thus needs to be allocated 45 minutes of time plus 8 minutes for tactical pauses (with both teams having 2 timeouts that last 2 minutes each), resulting in 53 minutes needing to be set aside per map. Thus, at bare minimum (and at risk of being unable to accommodate severe delays), single maps need to be given 1 hour each, and best-of-three series need to be given 3 hours each.
Three hours per series is difficult to schedule as it stands, but on top of things Rewind is a two-day tournament, which is very limited on time to begin with.
The recent ESEA Invite grand finals were historic in a way:
First time in @ESEA TF2 history that an upper bracket team has won the grand finals despite losing the first series.— tsc (@thesupremecmdr) August 19, 2016
This actually spawned a discussion on the upper bracket advantage immediately following the game, in which the power of the upper bracket advantage was questioned as being too significant to overcome.
Fast forward a bit, and we get to Insomnia58. The eventual champions of Crowns eSports Club got into a heated discussion with the admins about what they perceived to be a lack of an advantage going into the best-of-five grand finals. After some wrangling, Full Tilt generously agreed to give up their map ban in exchange for being allowed to pick the first and third maps of the series.
As should be apparent, there’s a lot of controversy on what an upper bracket advantage should look like. I’ve given this a bunch of thought even before this has come up now as it’s a very difficult problem to solve.
After Insomnia58, I felt like writing up my thoughts to give me some closure on the event. This post is a bit messy because it’s mostly me just typing what comes to mind, but I hope it all makes sense. Because I’m typing what I’ve thought about before and during the event, I’m probably also missing some important things that I’ll think about later - if there are enough of those, I’ll probably add a part two sometime. Here goes.
As we wound down the first day of the new year I made the following observation:
Interesting comparison: Valve probably made ~$150 million on TF2 last year, and competitive TF2 total prize money hit only ~$75,000.— tsc (@thesupremecmdr) January 2, 2016
About a week ago I also made the observation that based on current information we wouldn’t even hit the amount we did last year, mainly thanks to the loss of one ESEA season. With all this in mind, it brings up the question: how do you separate events in TF2, given that it’s not comparable to other games?
Recognition from Valve is perhaps one of the more delicate topics in the backroom of competitive TF2. Generally, however, it hasn’t really meant anything except being a little validation for someone making a difference, so there really hasn’t been a reason to complain about it audibly.
Recently, however, it’s had much more of an impact, with Valve now allowing those owning Community or Self-Made items to access the competitive matchmaking beta. This is in addition to the initial passes granted to community representatives late last year for the private beta test, passes granted to friends and family, and passes recently granted to mapmakers. Taken together, it’s a clear indication that that Valve is granting VIPs advanced access to the beta outside of the randomly distributed beta passes. I’m not going to argue against this policy in general, because these people certainly have some claim to deserving an invite for their contributions.
Note: the opinions expressed by me and those providing comments are ours alone, and do not reflect the opinions of teamfortress.tv or any staff member thereof.
A friend recently pointed me towards an article lamenting a current lack of originality in written articles about TF2. I’ll make it simple by saying that I do agree—we are gravely missing some fairly unique content nowadays, and I can’t deny that some of it has been caused by the recent shift in focus of teamfortress.tv.
It seems like quite a few new projects have been popping up in the competitive TF2 community recently. Some of these ventures have been successful, others have fallen, and we’re still waiting for a few. Many will probably know of the one I’ve been involved with, PugChamp, and most would place it in the first category. Given my recent experience and general knowledge about past and present projects, I’ve started thinking about what makes projects successful, and have come up with a list of factors to consider.
Ever since most people can remember, there have been two dominant formats in which most competitive players participate: 6v6 and Highlander. I believe that this arrangement has been ultimately detrimental to both formats and to the general progression of competitive TF2.
Timing in Team Fortress 2 (as far as competitive goes) has always been something of a delicate issue. The round timer is a perfect example of it - decrease the timer, and defenders have even more of a reason to attempt to slow down the game even more; increase the timer, and attackers have no reason to push forward until they can create the perfect storm.
I’m not really here to discuss the metagame issues, though, but rather to look at the complex technical issues surrounding them. In order to do that, let’s look at how another game handles timers compared to TF2. In Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, there is no timer for the map. Each round has timers which limit the round’s length to a maximum of three minutes. This is in contrast to TF2, which has a map timer set to thirty minutes (usually) and a round timer set to ten minutes which is reset every time a control point is captured.
I tend to overanalyze and fixate on tournament structures a lot as part of my general fascination with hierarchies and orders. As a result, I tend to focus on mostly unimportant issues. The naming of double-elimination bracket rounds is one of those issues, and we’ll be discussing it here.
My main issue with the naming of the rounds in double-elimination brackets is that they usually don’t show progression very well.
For people like me, it’s difficult to look at the vast history of the game and consider it one cohesive whole - the scene has changed greatly since its humble beginnings. As a result, I naturally try to separate it out into distinct eras. Given that I’m a relative newcomer, I can’t claim to know everything about the past, but I feel like I have enough of an understanding to identify the era-defining events of the scene.
It seems that every time a season of ESEA rolls around, we are greeted with the usual sight of players playing in a division lower than expected, and the inevitable calls of sandbagging ring out. Being interested in understanding more about this phenomenon, I went and computed stats from history to see whether I could find any interesting trends.
Here we go again: a leading organization in TF2 has done something amazingly horrifying, people are rioting and calling for the heads of those involved, and the inevitable suggestion of “let’s build our own” is being made.
We’re talking about ESEA, right? Or is it TF2Center? Damn, it’s hard to keep track of all these controversies.