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You might be a big fish / in a little pond - MLG's image problem

in glhf

…doesn’t mean you’ve won / ‘cause along may come / a bigger one …

Pandemic’s recent shuttering is just the latest in a long list of casualties that can be attributed to the Championship Gaming Series’ reckless behavior. I outlined back in 2007 why I thought the meteoric rise of the CGS was terrible for gaming in the states, whether it went tits-up or not, and felt like I had been one of the few sane voices pointing out the herd of elephants in the room during the flurry of post-mortem analysis after it did indeed go tits-up.

This has all been swirling around in my head again, mostly due to djWheat feeling the need to beat this decimated horse some more recently on his show, and due to the news of Pandemic closing, which led to this NYTimes article, that I hadn’t actually seen before, bubbling to the surface on Gotfrag (hat tip: CAPSLOCKCOMMANDO). Its predictable tone of offering sympathy to the gamer caught up in the mess while squaring all misguided blame directly at the economy gets broken up halfway down the article, where they begin interviewing Bromberg of Major League Gaming:

“We have driven everybody else out of the business,” Matthew Bromberg, the league’s president and chief executive, said in a recent interview at his office in Manhattan. “The history of league sports begins with one league.”

Excuse me…um…what? There’s so much wrong with this, it’s unbelievable. Even when taken from the perspective of sports in the States alone, both statements are simply ignorant of reality, and smack of an arrogance that will eventually be their undoing.

The first is just puffery that can be deflated pretty quick: at press time, ESEA was just getting rolling with perfecting their league model that now is the gold standard for high-level competitions, and the WCG still operates here with a pretty good degree of success. Fact is, there were still plenty of players in the US pro gaming scene, some of them rather massive. But to say that you actually drove the CGS under? Blasphemy.

However, putting that nonsense aside, it’s the second that demonstrates just how misguided the MLG leadership seems to be, and how they will be passed up in a heartbeat when legitimate gaming associations take footholds in the states. Out of the big four pro sports leagues in the US – NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL – every one of them has undergone a merger of some kind at some point, and in the cases of the NFL and MLB it was humongous merger deals between two rival leagues that put those entities into existence. The history of a league sport usually starts with several leagues competing for players and dominance, that eventually result in mergers or absorptions. Granularities aside, it’s obvious that successful sports always start and sometimes continue to exist with a plurality of leagues, and monolithic structures that try to dominate a sport for extended periods of time run into major problems eventually.

Just because you’re the big fish in the pond right now, doesn’t mean that the situation is permanent; doing interviews and making statements to the effect of merely swinging your huge e-dick around as a result of your elevated sense of position in your sector isn’t good business either. In fact, it just puts a target on your back an incites others to actually make an attempt to do what you’re doing, and do it better.

Really though, this is the bottom line: if you don’t know where we’ve been, you can’t possibly know where we’re going. And there’s little evidence that MLG knows much about where we’ve been, let alone where we are.