By Matt Liew
This past weekend, I played a local eSports tournament with our resident backend manager Ziddy and a haphazardly assembled team. We’re decent at the game despite not exactly being championship material – but decided to participate anyways for the experience and for fun.
Ziddy handled the signup for us, since joining the tournament was his idea. The signup sheet was simply a Google docs form, and teams were supposedly allowed to register a total of 6 players – 5 active players and 1 substitute – despite the signup sheet only having space for 5 names. We weren’t too sure how we were supposed to register a substitute at all, and eventually ended up not bothering to do so. We figured out how the substitute mechanic worked on the day of the tournament itself. More on that later.
Another interesting thing was that we couldn’t find the closing date for registration anywhere on the website. As a result, we ended up registering a lineup that we weren’t fully comfortable with about a week in advance – just in case the organizers closed registration without warning. We later discovered that participants could register all the way until the morning of the tournament itself.
We decided to try and practice whatever tactics our meager skills allowed us to, in hopes of at least advancing past the elimination matches to the best-of-threes. As mentioned before, we’re decent at the game, but also aware that we’re not championship material. Team chemistry was barely passable, but we hoped to at least win one game in a best-of-three.
This wasn’t anything like a pro tournament, where the teams and players are established and have extensive libraries of replays available to analyze each other’s tactics and play-styles. We had no idea who we were playing against, and couldn’t come up with any tactics beforehand to abuse our opponents’ weaknesses…because we had no idea who we were playing against. We just ended up practicing the most generic and safe tactics that we could come up with, and hope that our opponents didn’t throw a curveball at us.
All teams were told that the first matches were all scheduled at 11am, and that we were required to check-in online an hour before, at 10am. We were all up before that. After checking in, we discovered that our first match was at…12.30pm. Either due to insufficient signups or some unknown reason, only 18 games were being played at 11am, with some 100+ games being played the next round at 12.30pm.
Our next match was scheduled for 12.30pm. Teams were given a reasonable 90 minutes to finish their first match – which was a direct elimination, best-of-one. While waiting for match time, some of us researched our opponents, some went to have breakfast, and Ziddy was busy handling the administrative side of things. Soon, the hour was upon us, and it was time to ready up for the match…except our opponents were nowhere to be found. No, seriously, they were nowhere to be found. Our opponents missed the check-in time.
According to tournament rules, they were technically disqualified from the tournament instantly by simply not checking in…but the tournament rules also said we couldn’t claim our default win until 30 minutes after the scheduled game time.
We ended up waiting till 1pm to claim our default win, and decided to play a few practice games while waiting for our next matchup, scheduled for 2pm. We were kind of happy that we were through to the next round, which meant that we were in to the best-of-threes.
At 2pm, we were left with an interesting – and somewhat hilarious – dilemma. We still didn’t know who our opponent was. Our 2 potential opponents were somehow still playing against each other, despite having all morning to finish their game. The tournament rules also allowed for teams to play games at an earlier time if both sides agreed, but our opponents were somehow…late.
After much stress, we discovered that one of the two teams that we were potentially facing registered the win for their Round One match (scheduled to start at 11am)…at 1.30pm.
Their Round Two opponents had decided to be gracious, and waited more than an hour beyond the scheduled time – but both teams failed to realize that delays like this would have a snowball effect on all the later rounds. Take a hint Malaysians, and stop doing this. Please.
Phone calls and arguments with tournament officials were had. The tournament officials instructed us over the phone to break the tournament rules and wait for our opponents far beyond the allotted time.
We ended up sticking by the rules and claimed our default win at 2.37pm. Almost immediately afterward, our two potential opponents finished their Round Two match, submitting the result at 2.40pm – 40 minutes after the scheduled start time of Round Three.
We then received a rather unpleasant phone call from the winners of the Round Two match asking why we didn’t wait for them to play the Round Three match. In the phone call, they revealed that their Round One match was delayed by over 30 minutes, and their Round Two match delayed by nearly an hour. They should have already been disqualified from Round Two.
The tournament rules had some allowances for delays, stating that a match’s start time could be delayed up to 10 minutes for whatever reason, only if both teams agreed. However, in the very next rule, it stated that default wins could only be claimed after 30 minutes. Who on earth writes these rules, seriously?
The 30-minute window to claim a default win resulted in a team being wrongfully disqualified from the tournament. A team submitted their default win claim only 24 minutes into the 30-minute window because their opponents didn’t have enough players, and their opponents asked them if they could borrow some of their friends to make up the numbers for their team. I am seriously not making this up.
We saw this happen in real-time because for some unknown reason, the tournament organizers decided that results were to be submitted to a Google Spreadsheet that anyone could view. This made very little sense when there are companies who develop software to manage in-house leagues or private tournaments like this.
The team with insufficient players ended up being awarded the default win by the tournament officials, because they claimed their opponents cheated by claiming the default win before the 30-minute period was up.
As you can imagine, the team that was ready to go at the scheduled time were furious that they were eliminated from the tournament by a team that didn’t even have enough players. This was made even more hilarious (and sad) when the eliminated team posted screenshots showing that the team with insufficient players had the gall to contact them, asking to borrow players for their next game. You seriously can’t make this up.
With another default win in Round Three, we set our sights on Round Four. We started looking up our opponents registered players to analyze their profiles and recently played games in hopes of figuring out their expected play-style, so we would at least know what to expect. While looking through the list of registered teams and players, we discovered that our next opponent had only registered four players, filling in the details for player 5 as “TBD”.
We contacted the tournament officials (who were probably quite annoyed at us by this point) to clarify the validity of the other team’s registration. We were under the assumption that teams had to register with five confirmed players, with an optional sixth player as substitute – despite not having anywhere to fill in the substitute’s information on the registration form.
We were soon informed by the tournament officials that despite only registering four players, our opponent’s registration was valid.
This statement came with a clause, stating that their registration would only remain valid if they used the same person as their fifth player used in every game. The tournament officials explained that the unregistered fifth person would count as a substitute – and that substitutes were not required to be registered.
The organizers did concede that if we could prove that our opponents used a different player in our game or any of their previous games, they would be instantly disqualified and we would be awarded a default win. Here’s the problem: because the tournament was not sanctioned by the game’s developer and the games were played in private lobbies, none of the games’ details are recorded for tournament officials to review – short of screenshots taken by the players themselves. This effectively meant that we had no way of checking whether they changed players.
With all that behind us, we buckled down and got ready for our Round Four match, scheduled to start at 5pm. We had yet to play an official game since checking in at 10am.
Soon enough, the opposing team’s captain tried to add Ziddy’s profile as a friend. This was completely against the tournament rules, which stated that teams were not allowed to contact each other through the in-game friend system or Facebook – and was grounds for instant disqualification of both teams.
We didn’t accept the friend request, and contacted the tournament officials yet again to resolve this matter. Tournament officials told us we were right in not accepting the friend request, and to find other means to get in touch with our opponents. Our opponents eventually sent an SMS to Ziddy’s phone with extremely vague instructions on how to find the private game lobby they were hosting. After several minutes of trying – and failing – to find or access the private game lobby, we began to suspect that they might be trying to earn a default win.
We eventually got them to find the game lobby we were hosting, and proceeded into the match. And then two our teammates disconnected from the game immediately after the character selection screen. They had been sitting in a cybercafe for hours without any issues, but of course issues chose to arise exactly as we began to play our first official game of the day, at 5pm.
Apparently their computers chose to restart themselves without warning – and being the cheap, underpowered Malaysian cybercafe computers that they were, took upwards of 15 minutes to reboot. Did I mention that the tournament rules mandated a maximum pause time of 10 minutes, regardless of the situation?
Strike Twenty One.
Needless to say, our opponents unpaused the game at the 10 minute mark, and our oblivious teammates managed to reconnect just as the timer expired…only to pause the game again and ask for a few minutes to get ready. I’ll admit I almost lost it at that point. They had the whole day to get ready, and after expending all of our pause/wait time, they ask for more at the risk of disqualification?
Strike Twenty Two.
Our opponents pointed out the obvious and unpaused the game, continuing to play. Then one of our players, whose computer already rebooted itself earlier, crapped out again mid-game. One of our two geniuses paused again, despite us trying to point out that we had run out of pause time. Needless to say, we ended up cutting our losses and conceded the first game – despite actually having a decent tactic and start. To say that the other three of us were pissed off at the two geniuses who basically cost us the first game of the series would be an understatement.
Strike Twenty Three.
0-1 down in the series, one of the two geniuses who disconnected from the first game told us that he “wasn’t feeling confident” and “didn’t want to play the second game”, which was not the slightest bit unprofessional and insulting to the rest of us who devoted time and energy to preparing for the tournament – as a team.
Strike Twenty Four.
We ended up getting a substitute to fill in for our resident genius, but went on to lose the second game of series – and were eliminated from the tournament.
And thus concludes my experience playing an amateur eSports tournament over the weekend.
We’ve got a lot of things to work on before we can consider challenging for titles, Malaysia.