The biggest upset in recent eSport raises a question on the format of tournaments.

Many fans watched in silence as SG Gaming, a relatively unknown Brazilian stack, knocked Team Secret off the 3000000$ price pool Kiev Major. Long will this match linger in our memories as one of the greatest upsets in the history of eSports.

This event sparked a fierce discussion in the eSport community regarding the single-elimination format of the tournament. No wonder, seeing that next round showed that while SG Gaming is a good team that can put up a fight, they are simply one level below other teams. Given a chance to climb the lower bracket, Secret would have had a good shot at changing the outcome of the entire tournament.

Supporters of the double-elimination format bring up a strong argument that if a tournament is to crown the current champions among all teams, independently of things between particular ones. Almost every team has their favorite scrimmage partners who know them like the backs of their hands. Skills showed in matches between such teams are not the accurate reflection of their power level because understanding your opponents style is important in all eSports. In such situations (ex. unlucky seeding), a better team, who would have stomped the tournament otherwise, might end up knocked out by their scrim partners.
It is also relevant in games where “cheese” tactics exist. A team or player may use a surprising strategy to win one match but still lose in the long run. Tournaments should reward masters, not one-trick ponies.
Not everyone agrees with that stance.
Some people say that tournaments should encourage these high-risk high-rewards plays as they are what allows us to see mesmerizing underdog stories. They point out that it is leagues’ and general rankings’ role to show the most consistent teams and tournaments are all about the feeling of the moment and glorious victories. In their opinion, a champion should withstand all obstacles and cheeses. Should a team overlook an issue, they shall pay the price. Like in war, there are no second chances. That’s a pretty good point when you consider the fact that it was Secret’s pride and cockiness that cost them a shot for 1000000$.

Apart from that, there’s an issue of time & money – tournaments played with double-elimination format take essentially double the time of single-elimination ones.
It may seem pretty good for the viewers for they wouldn’t just watch more games but also sometimes get a second chance to root for their beloved team as they would struggle to fight through the lower bracket, however, it is disastrous for organizers. It’s already common to see games dragging out for hours. Doubling that would mean either additional costs (and these events are already quite costly) or cutting down the number of teams. The latter means that while some may be happy to see their team for the second time, others may not get to see theirs at all (and that means fewer viewers, fewer tickets sold and smaller tournaments).

There is no straightforward answer to the question about the formats. The only thing we can be sure is that now Team Secret will think twice before underestimating their opponents.

What do you think about it? Should there be a standard format or should it be up to individual tournaments? Let us know what you think in the comment section below!

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