Saturday, September 29, 2012

The MLG MVP Starcraft 2 Invitational

Major League Gaming, who promised the community that they were going to put their KESPA partnership to “good use,” delivered something interesting this weekend, The MVP Starcraft 2 Invitational. 1st of all, KESPA refers to the federation that controls all the Starcraft teams and players in South Korea, they are a tight organization that abides by strict rules in terms of exposure of their players. It is important to note that these teams are well funded by large corporations in South Korea, like Samsung Electronics, and have a lot of money to throw around. In the past, they were basically a xenophobic organization, doing nothing to accommodate their overseas fans, but in the last couple of years they have open their boundaries and brought the “foreigner” angle into the discussion. In one of their bigger movies, they partnered with Major League Gaming, North America’s largest tournament organizer, and stated their interest to send their players to the states for competitions and exhibitions.

This MVP (M meaning MLG and P meaning Proleague, or KESPA) Starcraft 2 Invitational was one of their bigger expenditures, in terms of this MLG-KESPA partnership, as it brought the clash of two separate communities, MLG vs KESPA. The KESPA players play amongst their teammates and secret IDs on the ladder, so their activity is unknown, but the “MLG” side, or everyone else, has hundreds of videos that show their training and have countless of VODs showing their performances in tournaments. This is a battle of the known versus the unknown, if you will. Also, these KESPA pros have just recently switched full time to Starcraft 2 within the past 6-8 months, while the MLG players have been playing since release, 2 years. It was going to be a clash for all the marbles, and to see if those raw skills and mechanics these Brood War pros have will translate into success into a new but a slightly similar game.

The catch of this is very enticing to any long time Starcraft fan. Legends like Stork, Flash, Bisu, Fantasy, and Jaedong will go against players like Huk, Idra, Sheth, Crank, and Thorzain. West versus East, Elephants versus non-elephants (Read this article for the reference), it was what people wanted to see since the release of Wings of Liberty.

But the reality kicked in.

The thing that went wrong for this MLG event,  at least for me and countless people on Reddit, was that it was going to be an online tournament, meaning it will be played cross-server with 3 different regions, Asia, North America, and Europe. This is a huge problem because it will not deliver the best gameplay by both parties in a particular match because of lag problems. The distance among each person’s connection is a huge hindrance as it will be a big boon to the players and a detraction to the viewer. Everyone loses out excepts for MLG (A bit of foreshadowing).

While other online tournaments do due this and are successful, North American Star League, but then MLG announces it will be a Paper-view tournament, meaning to watch it you have to pay 10 Dollars for the matches. Hey, this is done in sports like Boxing and Wrestling and those PPV packages are much more than what MLG is talking about, and for the hours of entertainment it will provide it is a good deal. The catch though that this is an ONLINE TOURNAMENT, and for people to pay money for online matches is just ridiculous. We are not even able to see the best quality of matches, and they expect to pay for it? I might be grasping here, but if it was the same structure of their Arenas, where the players fly in New York and play the tournament at the MLG offices, than I would have no problem with paying that fee, but this is something else. Players like Scarlett even dropped their participation in the tournament, seeing that cross-server play is something that she does not want to deal, having her less than sub-par Canadian internet.

Also 1st place prize is 10,000 dollars, a good piece of change but this is the only cash out. 2nd place gets seeding in a future MLG tournament and 0.00 America dollars, this is bad for E-Sports (I know this is a cliché saying). Top heavy, or one heavy, prize pools are not good to support professional players. Excuse my political wording but it is better for a Socialist system, where all performers get money, while the top people get just a little bit more. This encourages longevity within pros and keeps them motivated to perform, Most gamers have very little income and prize money needs to be doled out to keep them going, or else we lose out on players.

Also there is so much hype that is lost in an online tournament, it is just that live feeling that is showed just enhances the experience.  Maybe it is due to the fact that there is so many online tournaments and just an over saturation of games, so that this invitational will just be another face in the crowd. A sad thing to say considering the theoretical hype around the matches, Flash vs Idra (!), but in its 1st weekend of matches, I think it will be.

The best thing about this partnership, Leta's Back flip in Anaheim

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