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Independence

in glhf

Alan over on his blog argues for a umbrella organization over all of esports, as an answer to a problem that doesn’t really get defined that well.

We should be looking for something like [an] umbrella organization that oversees all of eSports, not just one game. This organization would need to work together with every other competition organizer to ensure the best player is found every year AND that the infrastructure is there to ensure growth. If we are all under one organization, the production dog and pony shows might stop and we could actually start some real growth.

Esports doesn’t need unity; it’s a strawman employed by folks that think the only way to growth and sustainability is tie everything together into one neat little bundle. How else will noobs get what we’re doing unless they’re introduced to everything at the same time, all the time, right?

The notion of an overarching esports sanctioning body is as completely unnecessary as a similar organization over all of traditional sports would be.

Do the operations of one traditional sport have anything to do with the operations of any other sport? No. Is there one unified body trying to advance the entire world of…sport? Um, no. What about esports is different that there’s this constant push to be considered and presented as a monolith?

I think its a case of ‘what grows crooked you can’t make straight.’ All of what we see now grew out of a demand for a venue in which early gaming clans, many of which ‘housed’ gamers spread across different games and disciplines, could prove their mettle against one another in some loosely organized willy waving contests. Today’s tournament circuits are just that, but scaled out orders of magnitude larger, with no real evolution. The view of esports as an indivisible unit is perpetuated because of this start.

You’ll get the same tired arguments from teams and tournaments if you postulate that these multi-game affairs are unnatural and only exist to ensure the continued relevance and scene dominance of multi-gaming teams, and the tournaments they help keep on life support. It’s usually something along the lines that the scene around any one game is too small to market to, and that the only way to gain any traction is to bundle everyone up. What will never occur to them is that these horizontal mishmashes that stretch across games – the multi-gaming team model that is more a less a given in esports today – make far less sense than a bundle of teams that all share the same game.

Hey, you know what that last bit is commonly identified as? A league. You know, those things where teams work together to stage competitions, enforce operational standards and professional decorum amongst themselves, and make money together?

Some of those would be great.

Leagues, operating independently of each other to serve the specific needs of a specific game, would thus have the leeway to create the specific circumstances that would spell growth for each game. What works in terms of competition structure, marketing, and fan base building in one game isn’t going to translate exactly to other games and communities; nor should any game have direct influence over the path of another.

Yet, we have smart, otherwise reasonable people flogging this notion of a one-size-fits-all esports scene, with their only justification being “well that’s how it’s always been,” with a heaping side order of “wouldn’t it be nice if things were different…”

Drives me batty.

I believe, we should be looking to build an organization that operates like the PGA Tour. The organization is the central hub of professional golf but each event is it’s own entity. Fun fact: pretty much all PGA Tour events are fundraisers for charity.

That reads a bit more generously than it really is…it’s true that the PGA operates as a non-profit and requires sanctioned events to run as non-profits as well. It’s not as though every event is a giant charity bash.

But how did this state of affairs come to be? Probably realizing a bunch of middlemen skimming profits at every level would be poisonous to growth, the players that formed the PGA decided that’s how things need to be run – the events would exist for the advancement of participants, not gatekeepers.

Huh. I wonder if Starcraft players might be able to stop bitching at each other over twitter about exhibition matches for a bit and cooperate on this level.

Not bloody likely.

It’s not as though the formation of a player association in Starcraft would mean instant war with existing tournaments, but at the very least it’d provide the catalyst towards evolution. If the ‘dog and pony shows’ are really the problem, that would be step one towards rectifying it.

The FedExCup is a season-long competition in which players accumulate points in each eligible FedExCup Points event. At the end of the season, the winning player will be crowned the PGA TOUR FedExCup Champion. The FedExCup allows the PGA Tour to crown a true season winner, even though all of the competitions are their own event. Sound familiar? What if we had a season-long competition like this where an organization like the PGA said how many points MLG Anaheim, IPL4, and NASL Season 2 was worth? The top 8 at the end of the season compete in an exclusive playoff to crown the true champion of Starcraft 2.

And then we all lock arms and skip into the setting sun, yea, yea.

HOW does that get done?

The existing tournaments aren’t going to implement something like this amongst themselves. They’re just not. Hell, I’m pretty sure one league in particular sees their only possible path to solvency as ‘CRUSH THE THROTTLE’ and total western scene domination. Some sort of grand championship outside their circuit is not part of their business plan. At all.

But even if Starcraft gamers got their shit together, and tossed together something like this, it would still be just Starcraft players acting in the interest of their own game, independent of the rest of the scene.

And that’s really the point here. There’s nothing that grand scene unification will bring but further stagnation and calcification of messed up mechanics.