Hello, friends- This past weekend, ECS Season 5 concluded with the finals in London. Congratulations to Astralis on becoming the Season 5 champions!
The format, however, has been critiqued by multiple people:
Just before any results happen I just want to say that winning 2 bo1’s to make semi-finals is not a good format, especially after playing an 18 game season. Not hating, just my opinion. I feel like a more in depth format can be done with an 8 team LAN.
— daps (@daps) June 8, 2018
You can win ECS by winning 6 maps. Pretty weak format for showcasing great Counter-Strike in 2018. Na'Vi won StarSeries after 19 maps played.
— Thorin (@Thooorin) June 9, 2018
These are fair comments, especially for a tournament with a $660,000 purse. So, what can be done instead?
Let’s look at the current format first and then I’ll propose an alternative format.
This was the tournament’s format:
- Eight teams, divided over two groups of four
- Six BO1 matches on Friday
- Four BO3 matches on Saturday
- Three BO3 matches on Sunday (semis and grand final)
This is how the matches played out structurally:
As Thorin pointed out, you can win the entire event by winning just six maps (and playing on two of the three days). This is exactly what Astralis did. Yes, that’s very impressive and from their perspective, they want the tournament to be as short and boring as possible — but for spectators, it’s not attractive.
There also wasn’t any double-elimination / run-back opportunity for Astralis and NRG in case they lost in the semi-finals (matches A7 and A8).
Finally, having four BO3 matches on Saturday is risky from a scheduling perspective. At Starladder 5, all four quarter-finals went the distance and the last match ended at 3:30am. This isn’t great for anyone, especially the players.
So, what’s the alternative?
My suggested format follows these guiding principles:
Every match is a BO3 match to give each team a full opportunity to prove itself.
The current format didn’t use any seeding (based on the season standings):
- The #1 EU team (Astralis) played the #2 NA team (Cloud9)
- The #1 NA team (NRG) played the #2 EU team (G2)
- The #3 teams (fnatic and Liquid) and the #4 teams (FaZe and LG) played each other
This seems very unbalanced and unfair, and it makes the result of 18 online games seem inconsequential. Instead, we could apply some basic seeding:
- EU1 (Astralis) plays NA4 (LG)
- EU3 (fnatic) plays NA2 (Cloud9)
- EU2 (G2) plays NA3 (Liquid)
- EU4 (FaZe) plays NA1 (NRG)
Is it perfect? No, but at least it attaches some consequences to the online season results.
Give each team the chance of a run-back, with the exception of the winner of the “upper bracket”.
4. Minimize Scheduling Pressure
There was no reason why there can’t be simultaneous games, which would be necessary to accommodate an all-BO3 format.
In an all-BO3 format, you’d want at most four match slots per day, but ideally three. This would minimize the chances of a 3:30am finish like at StarLadder. The best thing would also be to make Friday the most stacked day to allow for enough rest and recovery before Sunday.
This is my proposed format (with hypothetical outcomes):
- There are eight games on Friday, four slots of simultaneous matches.
- The first four games follow the basic seeding outlined above.
- After those games, the winners play each other (matches A5 and A6) and the losers play each other (matches B1 and B2).
- After Friday, two of the eight teams would be eliminated. If it’s important that each team gets to play in front of a crowd, then the Friday could also be opened to an audience (which it wasn’t). The matches could also be played simultaneously on stage (like at Blast Pro Series).
- The two undefeated teams face off (match A7).
- The teams with one loss play against each other (matches B3 and B4). The losers of those matches are eliminated.
- The two winning teams from matches B3 and B4 play each other (match B5). The loser is out and the winner plays the other remaining team with one loss (match B6).
- The winner of match B6 then advances to face the only undefeated team in the grand final (match A8).
What do you think? Would this be a more fair and competitive format to decide the winner of ECS?