Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Thoughts on WCS

WCS Season 2 Finals

Well the Season 2 Finals have finished, and I have to say that it was an amazing success! Its pretty cool to have the 3 different hosts for the end of each season (Korea, Germany, and USA). This time it was in Germany and the production was amazing! 

However, it wasn't really that difficult to beat Season 1's considering the ridiculous political rivalry that is going on between GOMTV and OSL, causing OSL to stubbornly decide against doing visual improvements due to the fact that GOM had already done them. And don't even get me started on the OSL's WCS Korea in which they changed the formats and maps mid tournament...

Anyways, it really was an awesome tournament, had excellent casting as usual, some good downtime content, as well as letting the viewers know how long a break would be. Another reason why it was so good is that we had a really good spread of players, which meant that it was anyone's tournament (and it was).

Amazingly, the winners of WCS Korea, America, Korea, and the winner of WCS Season 1 Finals all failed to qualify past the group stages which is incredible. Both Scarlett and Naniwa managed to get out of their stacked groups, which is great because they are both the best foreigners atm, and also for representation.

There were some amazing games, probably the most high level games we have seen this year. Here's some of my favorites...

Jaedong vs MC, Game 2 on Whirlwind - MC's incredible never say die comeback.

Taeja vs Innovation, Game 3 on Newkirk Precinct - Classic Mech vs Bio crazy long game. Who said TvT was boring?

Taeja vs Rain, Game 2 on Whirlwind - Amazing Ghost control vs spread out Storming Templar.

Poor Jaedong. He is the new MarineKing Prime. With 4 runner ups, it really is starting to feel like he's never going to win one. But despite this, he has one of the best records overall of the year, so he should win one eventually.

Bomber! Coming out of nowhere since 2 years ago taking it down at MLG Raleigh. I love his "I'll match you macro for macrowont-attack-til-2-2" style vs Zerg, really showing the power of the fast 3 CCs.

It was great to see Taeja, Jaedong and Bomber reaching the Semi's as they were undoubtedly the 3 strongest players of this tournament, playing out of their skin! 

Cream of the crop certainly does seem to be rising to the top. It is actually leading towards a great final tournament at the end of the year at Blizzcon...

The only question on my mind right now is... Where is Flash? :(

Thoughts on WCS

There is an interesting debate as to how well WCS' seemingly unfair structure has worked. How we evaluate this depends on what angle we're talking about, and whether that is the more important one;

If we talk about viewership, it is indeed better to have things spread out the way it is. With the 3 regions, Koreans choose which region they want depending on their situation and how feasible it is. This means that the Korean league which is extremely saturated with good players are more spread out and more of them have a chance to be successful. This also means that there are better games are more scenarios where they will face off against each other. This is exactly what happened in this WCS Final, it wasn't a rollover for the players that qualified through WCS Korea, but it was more spread out and there were awesome, close games that were great to watch. For viewerships, the WCS format is great for Starcraft.

The fact that we have one overriding tournament which links together is great. Before with all the different types of tournaments all over the place it was confusing, and also hard to see whether it was worth it. Now all tournaments go towards Blizzcon with their points system. MLG has stepped back, but Dreamhack and IEM are still around and even smaller tournaments like Homestory Cup still contribute towards that.

However, if we talk about growing more of a local scene, that is good players that aren't Korean, then this is not so good. With the Koreans joining the other regions, it makes it harder to have a local champion. In fact qualifying to the premier league itself is still hard, riddled with Korean code A/B players. But should this be an excuse? Its not fair because better players are joining your league? Surely you would have to play those players eventually. But money going towards non home grown can effect it too, making living off being a pro gamer less feasible and making other potential players not want to pursue it.

n the end, I do think that Blizzard has made the right call. Maybe a few tweaks are needed for region locking or something, but overall it is more important to keep the excitement of the game alive over homegrown talent. This is also in line with their patching, where they have explicitly stated that they want to keep the game exciting, so buff are more likely then nerfs.