Monday, August 27, 2012

MLG Controversy

The MLG Summer Championships were held over last weekend. I watched a lot of the games live but ended up playing in the Go4LoL cup thing during the start of the League of Legends finals. At one point I popped the stream back open to catch a glimpse of what was going on (we had a first round bye and then promptly got stomped by a cheating 2200 team) and was shocked to discover that there were something like 31 kills in the first 8 minutes of the game. This is really surprising because I feel one of the things that really distinguishes top tier play is knowing when to engage and when to run. I constantly see top players escaping with a sliver of health or preemptively running from a bad situation where my team would engage to death or not run in time and die. 31 kills is insane. Heck, we only died 34 times in 22 minutes in our cup game!

I mentioned this on Skype and Kevin went to check the game out. His immediate reaction was the game was an ARAM and not a normal game. For those who may not know, ARAM stands for All Random All Middle which is a style of game where everyone takes a random champion and runs to the middle lane. You can't go back to base to shop or heal unless you die. It's an interesting variant and I've played it a few times. But it's not the actual game. A couple arenas ago the StarCraft II guys played a 2v2 tournament which was interesting. But they tacked it on as an added bonus; they didn't replace actual games that people were paying for. I would be in favour of them running an ARAM side event at some point. I'd find that amusing. But replacing one of the games in a final? Pretty sketchy. MLG makes the finals a best 3 of 5 for a reason... The fans want to watch a lot of quality games between the best teams. Throwing one of those games away sucks.

It would be like if the Penguins and Capitals were playing hockey and decided to replace the first period with a series of Crosby and Ovechkin breakaways. Some people would find that interesting (just look at the All-Star game) but the people who paid to get in to the game expecting to watch hockey would be in for a real shock. As someone who does pay a fair bit to watch LoL online I'm pretty bitter that they screwed around with an ARAM in the finals.

Now long after the finals finished MLG released a statement stating they'd disqualified Curse and Diginitas (the two teams in the finals) for breaking a rule about forfeiting matches/colluding to alter the outcome of a game. Eventually more details came out and it actually wasn't because of the ARAM. They got some sort of warning for the ARAM but it wasn't worth a $32k penalty. It turns out they got disqualified for being very public about agreeing to a prize split. With nothing on the line the teams were free to screw around which resulted in the ARAM. The difference between first and second place was supposed to be $8k which should be enough incentive to actually try to win. Remove that incentive and MLG feels the games get screwy and the viewers fail to get their money's worth. Apparently MLG disqualified some Smash Bros players for a similiar thing a while ago? So it's not like this is something new. MLG is against match fixing and they view prize splits as being part of match fixing.

Personally I think if eSports wants to be taken seriously this is a good stance to take. You wouldn't see the Canucks and Bruins agreeing to just be friends and share the Stanley Cup. I seem to recall prize splits happening all the time in Magic and poker so I am surprised to find MLG taking this stance. It's always just been something that happens.

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